April 30, 2010

Dear Mr. Knowitall... Help!

Today I woke to the morning sunshine, filled with vim and vigor, aka ambition. With it being my day off, I was determined to get things done around the old homestead. I decided I had enough with mild attempts... Yes, I decided to go on the offensive with the living room floor in our humble little home. No more Mister Nice Guy!

First every stick of furniture in the living room had to be squeezed into two bedrooms, and some went out the door to set in the backyard. Yes, I was going to get things done.

Next, since I was already expecting to scrub the wood floor within a inch of its life, I may as well mop the bathroom and kitchen as well. Why pass up killing two birds with one stone, right? So some of the kitchenette set went out the back door to join the others as well. It was starting to look like I really meant business now.

My brother, a.k.a. Brother Dear had suggested that a floor sander would take care of my floor situation. But for a while I've been doing a little bit of atomic research of my own for ways to remove stubborn water stains from wood floors... ever since the icky old carpeting was torn out last year. One idea is to use household vinegar, another is to use bleach, and if all else fails, try oxalic acid. Though I had my doubts, I chose to go with vinegar first, just to see what would happen.

After three applications, I discovered that the only result was that my house now smelled like a Subway sandwich restaurant.

"What did you do next" you ask? Not to worry, I shall tell all in due time.

I passed on the use of household bleach. Too risky, I thought. With my luck the floor would turn pale white. Not a very appealing image. So I trucked on down to the local Q.P. Hardware after having a Kids Meal lunch with my Junior at school, and picked up a small tub of oxalic acid crystals - a bleaching agent safe for treating stains without bleaching the natural color of the wood. Mind you, this stuff is poisonous so please treat it with utmost respect (eye protection, adequate ventilation, rubber gloves, etc...)!

The day was already half over. I dumped the crystals in a warm gallon of water and used the hard-working mop for application so I wouldn't have to handle the acid. And so I began mopping the wood. And mopped. And mopped. Scrubbing it repeatedly into those nasty stains. After four applications (waiting at least ten minutes between each) the floor was then gone over with a wash of plain water, applied three separate times to remove the acid.

The verdict: My wood floor did indeed lighten up, almost to the natural wood color. And a few discolored spots lightened right up. But (and there's always a "but") those mean old dark water stain rings lightened up only slightly. Definitely not enough that I'd dare think of refinishing anything yet.

Anyways, to cut a long story short... a thunderstorm moved in as the final wash was still drying. All our valuable goodies outside had to be rushed back inside as the rain drops started to fall. Now the furniture is almost all back in place. I haven't felt good all night (*gasp* oxalic acid poisoning??? Or maybe it was that second fast food cheeseburger for the day topped off by a treat at D.Q?) ...And Brother Dear still thinks I should have rented a floor sander.

Oh well...

Some days it just doesn't pay to be ambitious ;)


1950's_atomic_ranch_house said...

Interesting... I'm having my wood floors re-sanded and varnished. There are a few little ring stains from 1950's table legs sitting in the same spot for decades and gosh knows what, but somehow it seems like honest wear, so I'm not too concerned if they don't come out in the sanding.

My alternative is to have new wood flooring put in, and I simply want to keep everything as original as possible!

I hope I'm doing the right thing lol...

On a side note I tried various concoctions to get stains out of the kitchen formica with no success either. =(

Space Commander said...

If you're happy with your original floor, then that's all that matters!

I really, really want to keep mine original, flawed though it is, especially since so much original to the home was remodelled/removed.

I'm not attempting to bring the place back to being exactly the same house it was 52 years ago, but I don't want it to lose its roots or the "feel" either.

Ohhhh.... Formica can be tricky, the image printed on it doesn't go very deep. My son proved that with the dinner table!

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